Activism, no matter what form or shape or cause, is comprised of passion. An injustice is seen and vigorously fought for. As with any activism; there are extremists. Those who find themselves so overtaken with the injustice that emotions often drive the conversation, which frequently leads to heated arguments instead of civil discussions.
I fully understand these individuals. I was one; and still am sometimes and trying to change. These are the people who attack on a personal level because they find it very difficult to separate the person from the act. A good friend told me once: “Sometimes you have to punch someone in the face to get their attention.” It’s a beautiful saying and I fully agree. However, it can be done without making it personal.
As soon as you go on the offensive (or defensive) with attacking, an insurmountably wall erects itself and the conversation becomes dead before it begins. No one will learn, or even be interested in learning, at this point. Why would they? At this point you’re defending your pride, not your argument.
In many instances it’s best to just disengage and walk away. Save your sanity from those who have no desire in learning your side. Being rude and uncivil is what makes movements seem to be led by a bunch of unhinged loons that people take with a grain of salt. Unfortunately a bad reputation is a common byproduct of activism.
Before I became a father, I thought nothing of spanking, circumcision or allowing a child to cry in a vein attempt to train them. Now as a father, I have learned better and fight vehemently against them. I see the injustice in these. I voice these opinions. I will not stop voicing them. But just because I don’t allow myself to lash out at a naysayer by arguing or allow myself to walk away upon realizing their intent is not to truly understand but to simply argue and pot-stir; in no way am I condoning that injustice or accepting it’s continuance.
On my blog, I have many many people that don’t necessarily agree with everything; but do listen. They lie in the background, absorbing what is being said and reading the comments. They take some advice and leave some advice. What if one of these people are on the fence and see someone admit they spank or someone that circumcised their child or left them to cry or any else you don’t agree with. What if this person who admitted this was attacked and pounced on by ‘peaceful’ activists? What if this person watching then decided to deem the cause as batshit crazy? I will always defend my opinion. I will always discuss my position. But I will never attack or bash.
The more we are the crazy, the bashing, the unhinged offensive attacks; the less we allow the movement to move forward. The more we are willing to teach through understanding, modeling and with poise; the more we will be listened to as a sane voice. A voice worth listening to. We can be that voice without the extremism. Extremism is not a good thing.
I know everyone on earth has seen it, laughed at it, cried because of it and inevitable got into some debate from it. I’m not going to get into the psychology of the ad itself as it’s been discussed ad nauseam. I will however briefly explore a wider realm of detriment it imposes: a disguised attempt to end The Mommy Wars. I’m not a fan of the term, but I’ll stick with it since it’s universally known as that.
I’m going to dive in about the meatier battles within the war. If you use a stroller over baby-wearing, then roll on. Disposables over clothe? Not worries. Formula vs. breast? He’s being fed, right? How you chose to birth or whether you work or not doesn’t matter. Even though some hold merit over others; these are all the smaller ‘to each their own’ type battles. But under this same umbrella would fall the bigger, more detrimental practices such as CIO (cry-it-out sleep training), corporal punishment and circumcision; which definitely do not fall into the ‘to each their own’ hat when science has proven otherwise.
Imagine for a moment, that all discourse on parenting practices ended. That would mean studies on the effects of these harmful practices would halt and anyone speaking against the act would be deemed a judgmental asshat. Yes, there are those extremists who sling mud and run off at the mouth on all sides, but a majority of those are simply presenting information in an attempt to inform, not belittle. This often comes across as attacks to those that are sensitive or have quilt from utilizing them.
A complacency in allowing inadvertent (yet sometimes purposefully) harmful practices would be the suppression of further discussions and sharing of pertinent information vital to future generations; which is a grave disservice. I would never, ever say “It’s okay that you struck your child. You love them.” Or pat someone on the back and tell them it was good decision to allow their child to scream themselves to sleep; we’re all just parents after all. I will never condone the circumcision of your son; a practice routinely done mainly in the U.S. and is largely falling out of favor (most of the world condemns the U.S. for it). How can I condone any of these things when they have been proven to cause harm? That’s not ‘mommy wars’; that’s fighting for the well being and rights of our children. That’s being pro-child.
This ad is eerily similar to one with the photo shoot of the various moms holding opposing signs together in harmony, and now the granola add. In light of these two campaigns anyone who speaks out (on either side) is frowned upon; further suppressing information. As is anyone that doesn’t particularly like the campaigns. ‘How can you not like them and their message?’ they’ll scream. Let us not forget that Similac is a for-profit company that is combating a large breast feeding movement, which is potentially cutting into their margins.
I say let’s keep the discussions going, keep sharing the information and parent on. Let’s stop the bashing, name-calling and mud-slinging during these discussions. It is true: we do all love our children and want the best outcome for them.